Experts question Denver Nuggets star’s fit with World Cup squad

Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

Denver Nuggets star Jamal Murray hasn’t been suiting up for Team Canada during the 2023 FIBA World Cup. Murray withdrew from the competition earlier this month, in an effort to recover after a long grueling season in Denver.

Without the Nuggets guard, Canada has still been rolling through their competition. They find themselves atop Group G, after winning all three of their group-stage games by a ton. Canada’s closest game came on Tuesday, when they beat Latvia by 26 points. The driving force for the Canadians has been Oklahoma City Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Gilgeous-Alexander ranks sixth amongst the tournament’s leading scorers, averaging 22 points per game while shooting 54.5% from the field and 27.3% from deep.

What would Denver Nuggets star Jamal Murray add to Team Canada?

With Team Canada’s strong start, and SGA’s impressive production, it’s tough not to wonder what Murray could’ve added to the equation.

According to some “international experts” who spoke with NBA Insider Marc Stein, Canada may be better off without the battle at the top that Murray would’ve caused.

“I’ve heard now from multiple trusted international experts working for NBA teams who have questioned how seamlessly a SGA/Murray backcourt would have functioned,” Stein wrote. “I suspect Canadian officials will wish they had both of their star guards if this team advances to the later rounds, when better defenses will naturally lock in on Gilgeous-Alexander, but there’s certainly a clear offensive pecking order as it stands with Murray declining to play after his lengthy postseason run to an NBA championship with the Nuggets.”

It’s not too difficult to see where Stein’s sources are coming from, but it may not be super fair to Murray to raise that sort of question. The 27-year-old just took on the Robin role quite well beside Nikola Jokic, as the Nuggets battled their way to an NBA championship.

It would be pretty shocking if he had trouble fitting in with someone as effective as Gilgeous-Alexander.

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